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VIT regulatory decision

Here is a summary of a regulatory decision made by the VIT concerning a registered teacher. All names have been removed.

Background

  • Teacher A and his partner had recently separated.
  • Teacher A went to his ex-partner’s home and waited for her to return to the property. When his ex-partner returned home, Teacher A ambushed her, physically assaulted her, pushed her to ground, threatened to kill her and her family, and tied her hands behind her back.
  • The neighbours heard the commotion and called triple zero.
  • Victoria Police attended the home, arrested Teacher A, and charged him with a number of indictable offences, including
    • false imprisonment
    • recklessly causing injury
    • aggravated burglary
    • making a threat to kill.
  • Victoria Police and Teacher A’s employer notified VIT of the incident and criminal charges.
  • Working with Children Check Victoria (WWCCV) subsequently notified VIT that the teacher had been issued with a Working with Children exclusion notice. This means that WWCCV assessed him as not suitable to engage in child-related work.

The decision

When VIT initially became aware of the teacher’s alleged conduct through his employer and Victoria Police, it formed a reasonable belief that Teacher A posed an unacceptable risk of harm to children, and the immediate suspension of his registration was necessary to protect children.

  • The VIT decided to use its discretionary power to suspend Teacher A’s registration on an interim basis.
  • The VIT notified Teacher A, Teacher A’s employer and WWCCV of the interim suspension of Teacher A’s registration.
  • The VIT reviewed the basis of the interim suspension of Teacher A’s registration every 30 days, as required by law. On each occasion, the VIT considered the progress of the criminal proceedings and decided to continue with the interim suspension of Teacher A’s registration.
  • When VIT was notified of the Working with Children exclusion notice, it took immediate steps to cancel Teacher A’s registration. This is because the law states that VIT must cancel a teacher’s registration in these circumstances.
  • The VIT notified Teacher A, Teacher A’s employer, WWCCV, and all the teacher registration authorities in the other States and Territories in Australia and in New Zealand of the cancellation of Teacher A’s registration.
  • The VIT also published this information in the Government Gazette and the Register of Disciplinary Action.

Reflection

The VIT has an overarching function to consider the wellbeing and safety of children, including by taking into account community expectations.

The VIT has the power to suspend the registration of a teacher’s registration on an interim basis if it forms a reasonable belief that the teacher poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children, and the suspension of the teacher’s registration is necessary to protect children. This power may be exercised in relation to alleged conduct that the teacher has committed in their personal or professional capacity.

In order to effectively exercise these functions and powers, VIT receives notifications from a number of sources. This includes the Victoria Police, WWCCV, and employers of registered teachers and early childhood teachers.

This case demonstrates how the recent amendments made to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) enable VIT and WWCCV to exchange information, and more closely align the way in which they assess whether a person should be registered as a teacher or be permitted to engage in child related work.

This case also demonstrates how VIT and other agencies can, and do, share information to protect the safety and wellbeing of children.